Browsing Tag

kid lit

Books We Love: Sam and Eva

#bookexcursion, #DiverseKidLit

Huge thanks to Debbie Ohi for sharing a copy of Sam and Eva with our #bookexcursion group! #bookexcursion is a team of nine educators who read and share new children’s and middle-grade titles. For more of my #bookexcursion reviews, click here!

They say you can’t judge a book by its cover, but Sam and Eva drew in my third graders before I flipped to the first page.

Sam and Eva captures a common friendship problem: when one person wants to join in the fun, but the other person would rather work (or play) alone. Sam draws creative creatures and crazy scenes, but Eva always feels she can top his latest creation. As the tension escalates, readers begin to wonder how the friends will ever find common ground. Sam and Eva surprise us just in time.

From the bright colors to the brilliant illustrations, the visual aspects of Sam and Eva make it the type of book children will pull off the shelf again and again. Author Debbie Ohi does such an amazing job capturing a common childhood moment and turning it into something magical and meaningful. I just know this book will be one my students ask me to read again and again!

Books We Love: Pug & Pig Trick-or-Treat

#bookexcursion, Books We Love

Huge thanks to Sue Lowell Gallion for sharing a copy of Pug & Pig Trick-or-Treat with our #bookexcursion group! #bookexcursion is a team of nine educators who read and share new children’s and middle grade titles. For more of my #bookexcursion reviews, click here!

Pug & Pig Trick-or-Treat is a sweet picture book about two friends who have different feelings when it comes to Halloween. Pig loves her costume, but Pug feels squished and squashed in his. When Pug abandons his costume, Pig is worried that she won’t have anyone to trick-or-treat with. Pug has to think outside the box to come up with a costume that works for him in order to help his friend.

A sweet story about friendship on Halloween night, Pug & Pig Trick-or-Treat is perfect for pre-K and lower elementary readers. It makes for a comforting read aloud during the Halloween season. Readers will love looking at the facial expressions of Pig and Pug to see how they feel. The book might also start conversations about how to choose a costume that is both comfortable and fun. This book is a good addition to any Halloween-themed shelf at home or in the classroom.

Books We Love: Draw the Line

Books We Love

Have you ever thought about the power we give to lines? We use them to connect, and we use them to divide. They make up paths from place to place, as well as borders that separate. In Draw the Line, two boys are each drawing their own lines when they discover that some magical things can happen if they team up. In order to create something amazing, they’re going to have to let go of the things that stand between them.

The fact that this book is wordless creates so many possibilities for its use in the classroom. It will inspire countless conversations on friendship, community, and communication. Younger readers can use the book to discuss how they connect with others, while readers through high school age can connect this story to current events. Readers of all ages can imagine the thoughts and conversations of the two artists. How might words help them achieve their goal? How might words stand in their way?

I can only imagine the impact this book would have if it were put in the hands of every child and adult. This is a book that is desperately needed in today’s world. Draw the Line will inspire us all to live our lives drawing lines of connection.

Draw the Line will be released in October 2017 by Roaring Brook Press.

Thanks to Roaring Brook Press for making an Advanced Review Copy of this book available at the International Literacy Association conference.

Books We Love: One Proud Penny

Books We Love

I’m always looking to add more informational texts to my classroom library, so I was so excited to take a look at One Proud Penny! This inventive and engaging picture book follows a penny protagonist as he pops up in many different places. Readers will be rooting for the penny as he gets left behind and stuck in some precarious situations, and again as he makes his way out and fulfills his purpose. With hilarious narrative and great illustrations, One Proud Penny will draw readers in from the very first page. Throughout the story, the authors include informative tidbits and fun facts that will stick with readers. Infographic-like spreads with facts about pennies through the years give readers experience in interpreting data.

While the penny isn’t usually a go-to when naming fascinating objects, Siegel and Bloch bring the penny to life for readers everywhere! I know this will be a favorite in my classroom this year.

Books We Love: Genevieve’s War

Books We Love

If you’re a longtime reader of Miss Magee’s Reads, you know love historical fiction. From children’s books like Number the Stars and The Invention of Hugo Cabret to historical fiction novels like All the Light We Cannot See, I love being immersed in a different time and place. One of my favorite reads of the past year was Kimberly Brubaker Bradley’s The War That Saved My Life, which explored the experiences of the evacuated children of London during World War II.

Genevieve’s War, from acclaimed children’s author Patricia Reilly Giff, explores World War II from the perspective of an American girl visiting her grandmother in France. When Genevieve has the chance to leave France and return to the safety of her home in America, she’s faced with a difficult decision: should she return home, or stay to support her grandmother? If she stays, will she be part of the resistance? Genevieve’s War explores themes of bravery, kindness, and courage in the face of adversity.

I highly recommend this book to upper middle grade readers who can’t get enough historical fiction. It’s a good fit for readers who are eagerly anticipating the release of The War I Finally Won this fall!

Building Family Connections: A Parent’s Guide to Nonfiction

Building Family Connections

This summer, I took an amazing graduate course on nonfiction children’s literature. It was incredible to discover how many nonfiction titles are out there for young readers! From picture book biographies to chapter books that answer big questions, there is so much out there for our students to explore.

I realized that in addition to reading more nonfiction in the classroom, students should be supported in nonfiction reading at home. After conducting a parent survey and hearing from over 80 families at my school, I created an FAQ guide for parents. Feel free to share the guide below with families as they navigate nonfiction reading at home!

Do you have any other advice for families as they incorporate nonfiction into their reading lives? Share your thoughts in the comments below, or reach out to Thanks for reading!

MMR Nonfiction Parent's Guide

Let’s Do Better: Diversifying Our Reading

#DiverseKidLit, Literacy in the Classroom

“I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.” -Maya Angelou

I vividly remember the moment when I first encountered this startling infographic:

I started asking myself a lot of questions. In curating a classroom library, what experiences were becoming visible for my students? Were all of my third graders seeing reflections of their own lives in the books that filled our classroom? Were my students getting a chance to see the world through the eyes of people of different cultures? Races? Socioeconomic backgrounds? Genders?

According to a study by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center at UW Madison, only 14.9% of children’s books published in 2015 were about people of color. In 2016, that number jumped to 22%. While this shows progress in publishing, I wanted to explore whether or not my own reading was beginning to diversify.

Since the start of 2017, I have read 101 children’s books. 55 of those books were fiction, while 46 were nonfiction. To begin analyzing my own reading habits, I looked at representations of race and ethnicity in my fiction reads.

What I found was troubling. In the 55 fiction books, there were 62 featured characters. Nearly 70% of those protagonists were white. Only 9 protagonists were African or African-American. Another 9 protagonists were talking animals or objects. 6 characters were Latinx or Latinx-American. There were only 3 Asian Pacific or Asian Pacific-American protagonists. Out of the 62 protagonists in the 55 books, there were zero American Indian or First Nations characters.

I worry about the messages we send to children when we make it hard for them to find stories depicting the lived experiences of others. I worry about making children feel like their own experiences are unrepresented in the books that are available to them. I worry about the implications of being a teacher who has spent half a year reading fiction books in which 84.9% of the characters are either white, a talking animal, or a talking object. And while analyzing my reading habits opened my eyes to the lack of racial diversity in the fiction books I’ve read this year, I imagine the the findings would be similarly concerning if I examined representations of gender identity, religion, sexual orientation, or disability.

As a reader, a teacher, and a citizen of this country, I need to do better. I need to seek out books that tell the stories of people whose lives look different from my own. I need to use resources like We Need Diverse Books, the Coretta Scott King Award, and the American Indian Youth Literature Award, among others. I need to ask for recommendations, look at booklists, use my local library, and get these books into my classroom.

Over the past few months, there have been glimmers of hope in my reading life. wishtree by Katherine Applegate explores how a community can heal after a hate crime against a Muslim family. Hello Goodbye Dog teaches young readers about therapy dogs and how they assist students with disabilities. Girl Rising helps young adult readers learn more about education equity around the globe. As these new books are released, we have the opportunity to put them in the hands of the children who sit in our classrooms.

At the International Literacy Association conference this summer, I was inspired by the work of National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature Gene Luen Yang. His Reading Without Walls challenge asks readers of all ages to reach outside their comfort zones. There are three parts to the challenge: read a book about a character who doesn’t look or live like you, a book about a topic you don’t know much about, and a book in a format you don’t usually read. While the concept is simple, the impact is powerful. Can you imagine the changes that could be made if we all spent time expanding our reading horizons?

We are living in a world where we have to know better, and then we have to do better. We have to seek out diverse reading experiences when they don’t land on our newsfeeds or in our classroom libraries. We have to break down the walls of our classrooms to connect our students with the world around them. The books we put in children’s hands today determine how they live their lives tomorrow. Now that we know better, let’s do better.

Books We Love: It’s Not Jack and the Beanstalk

#bookexcursion, Books We Love

What would happen if fairytale characters didn’t listen to the narrator? That’s the question Josh Funk explores in his new book, It’s Not Jack and the Beanstalk. This hilarious, inventive new take on a classic will keep kids laughing out loud. When the narrator starts the story, Jack doesn’t exactly cooperate. He doesn’t want to get up in the morning, doesn’t want to throw the beans out the window, and especially doesn’t want to start climbing. If Jack doesn’t do what the narrator says, will it change the end of the story?

My students are big fans of fractured fairy tales. They love rooting for characters who may not have been heroes the first time around. I know they’ll love this book, where the giant is a little different than they might remember. They’ll also enjoy the playful illustrations by Edwardian Taylor, which just add comedy to an already hilarious tale.

It’s Not Jack and the Beanstalk will be released on September 19th, 2017 by Two Lions.

Huge thanks to Josh Funk for sharing a copy of It’s Not Jack and the Beanstalk with our #bookexcursion group! #bookexcursion is a group of ten educators who read and share new children’s and middle grade titles. For more of my #bookexcursion reviews, click here!

Third Graders’ Favorite Picture Books – 2016-2017

Books We Love, Literacy in the Classroom

Some of my favorite memories of elementary school include my teachers reading to the class. I loved listening to Charlotte’s Web, Chrysanthemum, The Kissing Hand and so many more. I hope that as my students grow, they hold onto the stories we shared this year.

During the last week of school, I asked my students to share their favorite picture book read aloud from their year in 3M. The books below captured our hearts, inspired us, and made us laugh. I hope they bring joy to you, too!

School’s First Day of School
Smallest Girl in the Smallest Grade
Last Stop on Market Street

Christian Robinson is a hero in the eyes of my third graders. We fell in love with his beautiful illustrations this year. They add so much to these incredible stories! All three of these books taught us lessons about compassion and making a change.

The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles

We first read The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles last fall during a Reading Ramble (see this blog post for more on this awesome community event!). My students were so drawn into the story, so I picked up a copy for our classroom. The book feels mysterious and intriguing, while also inspiring kids to deliver messages of inclusion. As one of my students wrote, “This character never gave up with that message and it teaches you to never give up on the things you do.”

Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat

One of my students wrote me a note about this book and said she would nominate it for a “most inspiring” award: “Radiant Child inspires kids to think – if you have a dream, stick with it, follow it, and never give up with it!”

Are We There Yet?

So many of the boys in my class are obsessed with this book. The illustrations are incredible, and the whole thing feels like an adventure. Not to mention, there is a robot character that speaks in QR codes! This is another book that never stays on the shelf for long.

They All Saw a Cat

We read They All Saw a Cat as part of our Mock Caldecott project in January. A fantastic and humorous tale of perspective, this one definitely stuck with my kiddos. The pictures are incredible, as are the words. One of my students wrote “When the author wrote this sentence: ‘The cat walked through the world with its whiskers, ears, and paw’s I thought it sounded BEAUTIFUL!” We keep this text on our Featured Books shelf, although it doesn’t spend much time sitting there! It’s almost always in the hands of a child – the sign of a truly great book.

We Found a Hat

After I heard Jon Klassen speak at the Boston Book Festival last fall, I knew I had to add more of his books to my classroom library. My students were so happy when we added We Found a Hat. One wrote, “This book has the most adorable critters and the cutest story! This book is not only cute and funny, but has great amazing pictures with the funniest quotes! I’m pretty sure all children would like this book.”

Ada’s Violin: The Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay

My students loved this tale of how creativity and community can help change circumstances for people around the world. In the words of a third grader, “Ada is very devoted. Yay for the Recycled Orchestra!”

Stick and Stone

We read Stick and Stone on our first day of school, and collected ways to be a Perfect 10 Friend. I was so happy when my students added this to their reflection lists this spring, as I hope the message is one they will carry with them well beyond grade three!

Ada Twist, Scientist
Rosie Revere, Engineer
Ivy Peck, Architect

On the last day of school, we hold a Sneak Peak Day where students visit their new classroom and get to meet their new teacher. Last year, I ended my students’ visit by reading them Rosie Revere, Engineer. By the time we came back in September, we were all eagerly awaiting the release of Ada Twist, Scientist. Andrea Beatty’s spectacular books have been a part of this year’s classroom culture since (literally) Day One.

My students and I hope these books make you laugh, smile, and think! Happy reading!

Review: Judy Moody and the Bucket List

Books We Love, Uncategorized

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Judy Moody and the Bucket List
by Megan McDonald
Illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds

My Rating:


Happy book birthday to Megan McDonald! Judy Moody and the Bucket List comes out today, August 2nd. I just know that the Judy Moody fans in my classroom will be begging for this book as soon as school starts.

Surprisingly, this book was my first Judy Moody read. Even though I have multiple bins of Megan McDonald books in my classroom, I hadn’t gotten around to reading any of them. I was so excited to check out Judy Moody and the Bucket List to see why my students adore McDonald’s work. It’s very clear that her books captivate young readers!

One of the things that struck me in Judy Moody and the Bucket List was McDonald’s great use of humor. The book was so funny, and used many different types of humor to make the reader laugh. While the book addresses some serious topics such as friendship, family and even death, McDonald’s humorous style keeps the book light-hearted.

Another strength of this book is how relatable the main characters are. Kids can truly empathize with Judy Moody and Stink. When we make connections in my third grade class, many readers share Megan McDonald books when talking about books they related to. Judy Moody and the Bucket List will be a connection book for many students.

Fans of Judy Moody and Stink will love this latest Megan McDonald read. I can’t wait to chat with my third-grade readers about it!

Classroom Connections


McDonald makes great use of euphemisms and idioms in this book. When these linguistic elements are being taught in class, this can be a great book for a “phrase hunt” in which students try to spot idioms in the text.

McDonald also uses many contractions in this book, as Judy and Stink are learning about contractions in class. They sing an adorable song in the book that I can’t wait to use in class!

Above all, the Judy Moody books are awesome for engaged independent reading. Suggesting this book to a reluctant reader may be the most powerful way you use it in your classroom!

Book Information
Title: Judy Moody and the Bucket List
Author: Megan McDonald
Illustrator: Peter H. Reynolds
Publisher: Candlewick
Release Date: August 2016
Price: US $15.99
Source: NetGalley – Advanced Review Copy

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Disclaimer: I received an Advanced Review Copy of this book from Candlewick in exchange for an honest review. All opinions in this review are my own. Thanks for reading!